My PI running 2012-07-15-wheezy-raspbian.img stopped booting. The Okay light is flashing 6 time, so I figure I need to replace the start.elf file. I insert the SD card into my Windows 7 laptop, but I can't see the raspbian boot partition. I only see a 55MB partition, left over space. DISKPART cannot access raspbian either. I tried to reimage the SD using the same method I did last week: Win32 Disk Imager. That fails with "not enough space", because it too cannot see the raspbian partition. How can I plow this SD flat and start over?


6 Answers 6


Since win32 is problematic and hard to use, you can probably do this easier by getting a livecd/liveusb image such as parted magic, boot it, and do the card from there. Then, you'll have a clean and simple way to access /dev/sdb (full card) vs /dev/sdb1 (partition) or whatever the device ends up in. It will be very useful tool to have for other tasks as well.

Warning -- this is a tool, not a one click solution. You still have to know what you're doing and use common sense. Always make sure you're operating on the right device (the memory card, and not your main hdd for example)!

  • 5
    I'm a little concerned about the safety of this answer with Linux novices. Aug 14, 2012 at 9:10

Put the SD Card in to your card reader (on the windows machine). Locate the drive letter assigned to your card in my computer; right click it and choose format. This will allow you to use the entire SD Card's capacity and allow you to rewrite the image to your card using Win32 Disk Imager.

  • When I do this, the card is still only 54MB. i.imgur.com/PmLJj.png Aug 14, 2012 at 0:02
  • Have you tried reflashing after the format? despite the size it should work Aug 14, 2012 at 0:09
  • Yes, it won't proceed because there's not enough room on the drive. The physical drive is 8GB, but it appears to be 54MB. Aug 14, 2012 at 0:10
  • Change the allocation size to the max size in the drop down then format and try flashing again. Aug 14, 2012 at 0:11
  • 3
    You don't need to reformat your SD Card before rewriting the card! Aug 14, 2012 at 6:22

I would recommend using gparted. I don't know what kind of user you are, novice, power, etc. The easiest way would be to download the live cd image, and burn it to a cd. If your using Windows 7, insert the blank disk and right click the downloaded iso. Then it should be something like "burn image..." (I'm not on a Windows 7 machine right now). Depending on how your PC is set up you might have to change the boot order. What we want is the machine to load the cd and not windows. Most computers will give you an option of "Press any key to boot to cd.." on boot up, if the boot order is setup that way. To change the boot order to allow live cd booting, on startup it is normally del or f12. Read the boot up screen, and it will tell you how to get in the bios. Then change the boot priority to CD first, then hard drive.

Also, I have noticed on my mac, after I destroyed the debian kernal trying to get my ds18b20 temp sensor to read I was unable to reformat the sd card because it was write protected. If this happens to anyone, use a usb connected adapter instead of the integrated macbook pro one and it will work just fine.

A Side Note (The Security Implications): If your worried about security at all, don't leave boot to cd as first option enabled, and if your smart you would password protect your bios. Just some food for thought.


I have not been able to get Win32 Disk Imager to run because the Readme file wants you to install "MinGW and QT". Has anyone been successful in using Win32 Disk Imager? Requirements: 1. MinGW 2. Qt for Windows SDK

Short Version: 1. Install the Qt Full SDK 2. Run compile.bat -OR- run qmake and then make in the src folder. 3. Compile.bat may be edited to change installation paths of MinGW and QT

  • Is this an answer or another question?
    – Impulss
    Jan 28, 2013 at 21:56

The internal SD card reader of my laptop does not recognize the card as a drive unit. If you don't have an SD to USB adapter, you can take your camera and plug it to the computer. It worked for me.

Thanks to www.raspberry.org for the info

  • That's creative! -- I'm glad it works for you, though, In my experience, most modern cameras won't give raw access to the SD card anymore. -- They use a media sharing protocol instead, and only let you access the files via what it's able to mount. -- With an old enough camera you may be able to wipe an SD card this way, but I think you'd be hard pressed to do it with newer ones. /YMMV. Jan 1, 2017 at 0:29

The Raspberry PI website recommends using the SD Card Formatter 4.0 Utility, it's a GUI utility and it's simple to use, you can download it here: https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

SD Formatter Utility

If you are comfortable with the command line though, you can do this manually without any third party software -- (I find this method to be easier than downloading some GUI program, personally, but to each their own):

Open an Administrative command prompt in windows, and run "diskpart".

Type "List Disk" to get a list of all of your physical disk devices.

Find the one that corresponds to your SD card -- be very sure -- if you're not sure, you can try "List Volume" to see if that helps you narrow it down.

Once you know the disk # that you want, type: "Select Disk #" -- replace "#" with the number of the actual disk (that you noted previously).

Then type "Clean".

I recommend also creating a new partition there to help windows find the device ("Create Partition Primary"), but I'm not sure it's actually necessary. -- When you're all done, eject and reinsert the SD card, Windows should offer to format it and it'll be all fresh and new again.

Edit: If Disk Part does not list a physical disk that corresponds to your SD card (not a volume with a letter, but a disk with a number; i.e. when you use the "LIST DISK" command) -- then you have a hardware or driver issue. Try it with another SD Card reader.

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